I am currently rehearsing for Secret Bridesmaids' Business (which is due to open on Thursday 1st September at the Athenaeum Hall in Arrowtown), in which I get to play a character completely unlike myself. Lucy Dean is 'earthy, impetuous, direct.' She is 'tall, striking', and one hell of a trouble-maker. She never censors herself, is impossible to embarrass, and is 'not scared to say things that people don't want to hear'.
I am a Libran who is almost incapable of making a decision. I hate conflict and am terrified of hurting people's feelings. Can you imagine how liberating it is to portray the exact opposite? There are many reasons that actors act. This is one of them. You can slip into different characters and try them on for size just like a new outfit. It's a lot of fun, and can be a thrilling experience. I think you just have to make sure you don't take it too far, however, which is why I am not a fan of method acting.
When the lights go down and the audience leaves, you have to remember who you are underneath the temporary wardrobe. Acting (in the words of the great Sir Ian McKellen) is pretending. Imagination is powerful, and children instinctively know that. Maybe I have just never really grown up, but I still love playing dress ups and hope I always will.